State and Local Action Steps and Practices to Improve School-Based Health
High-Impact Opportunity #4
Promote Healthy School Practices Through Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Health Education.
School learning environments should be designed to promote and reinforce health and well-being, including opportunities for, and access to, daily physical activity, high-quality, nutritious school food, and rigorous and effective nutrition and health education.
Increased physical activity and access to nutritious food throughout the school day can improve student learning and academic and health outcomes. In addition, research has shown comprehensive health education decreases tobacco use, alcohol use, and other delinquent behaviors.
Schools can assess their policies and practices by completing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's School Health Index and implementing strategies found in the School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.
Schools can sign up to be a school champion through the Let's Move! Active Schools initiative, and use the Let's Move! Active Schools assessment tool to identify and address physical activity and physical education programming needs.
LEAs can also support healthy environments for all children by developing strong Local School Wellness Policies that are deeply integrated into individual school improvement plans.
LEAs and schools can support effective health education for all students by utilizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) to determine how to improve the alignment of existing health education courses with the National Health Education Standards and CDC's Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum.
The Jennings School District in Missouri used the Wellness School Assessment Tool (WellSAT) to assess and revise its wellness policy to include, goals for increasing physical education and physical activity, as well as increasing access to fruits and vegetables. The district hired a full-time health and wellness coordinator who helped develop and implement a robust physical education curriculum. As a result, teachers reported that students were less disruptive and less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior because they were busy participating in inclusive, active, and fun activities. The wellness coordinator also chaired a cross-agency, multi-partner committee that helped create a community garden at an elementary school to provide hands-on education in healthy food practices. Learn more about the WellSAT at http://www.wellsat.org/.
- To develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school physical activity programs and create an overall more active school environment, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/pdf/13_242620-A_CSPAP_SchoolPhysActivityPrograms_Final_508_12192013.pdf.
- To evaluate your school's current physical activity levels and to gain access to programs, initiatives, and resources to get students moving, visit http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53b1a843e4b0dcbabf4b4b85/t/554151cbe4b0a7a9583911b4/1430344139181/15-LMASFramework_4.29.15.pdf.
- To review the CDC's School Health Guidelines and access best practices around these guidelines, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/npao/strategies.htm.
- To incorporate a healthy and active culture into classrooms and schools, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/npao/pdf/tips-for-teachers.pdf.
- To analyze your school's/district's health education curriculum, access the CDC's HECAT at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/hecat/pdf/hecat_brochure.pdf.
- To access practical action steps and resources from Adolescent Health: Think. Act. Grow (TAG), a national call to action to promote adolescent health, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/tag/.
- To develop a coordinated school health plan to address the safety and health needs of students with asthma, visit http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/asthma/pdf/strategies.pdf.
- To view a list of evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/tpp_program/db/tpp-searchable.html.
- For training materials and resources from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Resources Center for organizations working to reduce teen pregnancy, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/teen_pregnancy/.
- For training materials and resources from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) Resource and Training Center for organizations that serve expectant and parenting teens, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/paf_program/about.html#.
- For practical HIV/AIDS prevention strategies from the National HIV/AIDS Resource Center for community-based providers and youth-serving professionals, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/national-resource-center.html.
- To complete an online school health self-assessment and learn about the CDC's guidelines to improve health and safety in school, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/shi/index.htm.
- For resources on creating a healthier school environment and engaging in the local school wellness policy process, visit http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/school-wellness-resources-2.
- For resources that assist schools in complying with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and other nutrition and school meal resources, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/healthierschoolday/tools-schools.
- To see how you can influence the school food environment to promote healthy foods, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/healthierschoolday/school-day-just-got-healthier-toolkit.
- For access to free nutrition education and promotion materials available from USDA's Team Nutrition initiative, visit teamnutrition.usda.gov.
- To learn how you can provide meals to students during the summer with the Summer Food Service Program, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-meals-toolkit.
- To promote youth physical activity, get strategies and resources at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/toolkit/userguide_pa.pdf.
- To improve the indoor air quality and create a healthy learning environment, visit http://www2.epa.gov/iaq-schools.
- To learn about the role health service integration in schools plays in addressing the needs of the whole child, visit http://www.ascd.org/programs/learning-and-health/wscc-model.aspx.
- To learn more about the relationship between health and academic achievement, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/health_and_academics/pdf/health-academic-achievement.pdf.
- To access your state's laws and policies on a variety of school health topics, visit http://www.nasbe.org/healthy_schools/hs/.
- For information on the role of breakfast in overall student health and for strategies on improving student access to school breakfast, visit http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Childrens_Programs/School_Breakfast/School%20Breakfast_Winter2013.pdf.
- For tips to make school environments safer for students with asthma, including ideas on how to improve air quality within and outside of the school, visit http://www.rampasthma.org/uploads/asthma_guide_sbhc.pdf.
- For information on using a school site for a vaccination clinic, visit http://www.astho.org/Programs/Preparedness/Public-Health-Emergency-Law/Public-Health-and-Schools-Toolkit/Vaccination-Clinics-in-Schools/.
- For resources on incorporating health and nutrition into the classroom setting, visit http://www.nemours.org/service/health/growuphealthy/521almostnone.html.